5:20am and just on FR401A
Thump, thump, thump... something wasn't right. Mark pulled over. We looked underneath anticipating a drive shaft, universal joint or related issue. When all that checked out attention went immediately to the differential... after all we had just crawled a three foot step and it sounded like we hit a rock.
So Mark drives a little and I watch with a flashlight. I see the rear axle and differential flopping to and fro. Crap... the hike today will be home
. We check it out and there really wasn't a fresh scratch nor did anything seem wrong. Mark says lets try again and told me to watch the transfer case. It was definitely the transfer case flipping around like an egg beater which in turn yoked the drive shaft and toggled the axle. Upon closer inspection it was simply a torn mount. Simple eh? Did I mention it's a Suzuki Samurai. This ain't no two ton dually we just need something like a twist tie off a loaf of bread! Okay not that simple but with two veteran DIY'ers this was almost more fun at this point than a disappointment. Using a bolt from the jack and a block of wood we created a wooden bushing and the mount was back in business.
It's amazing I forget but the drive in is possibly more exhausting than any hike. I was excited to get back in a Samurai. My last ride was 1987 in high school. Friends Terry, Mark and I took a couple trips off road where the Scottsdale Pavilions and 101 now reside. Apparently I've grown a little since those days. Today I had maybe a half inch to spare before my knee caps where cracked off by the dash. Yeah I was gripping the OS bars pretty tight the entire trip...lol
8:00am and we were actually hiking. The plan was to follow my previous Hell's Hip Ridge route, drop into Hells Hip Pocket then jump the ridge and visit Skeleton Cave. The weather was perfect. We made good time to HHP. We dropped in the top and worked our way down. There were a couple decision areas but nothing too bad. I showed Mark the Grasshopper Lounge then we continued down. The pocket is one of my favorite areas and I was enjoying it thoroughly today.
With a later start I set our turnaround target at 1pm. It seemed pretty iffy at best. Yet we found ourselves above the cave with an hour to go. Unfortunately Mark's leg was giving him issues from a previous injury. I don't think the exposure was to his liking either and the steep hike down the alluvial fan just wasn't in the cards. I wasn't too disappointed as I've been to the cave before and I was pretty tired rolling on two hours sleep. In addition I'd neglected to bring my headlamp and was not looking forward to hiking in the dark. So perched on a rather uncomfortable rock I had the best lunch view of my life. This was the edge of the cliff looking right down into Skeleton Cave with BCB across the Salt River goose-necking through the high-walled canyon corridor.
Heading back I just wanted to take a nap. The flush white skys we experienced all morning were deep blue and the sun was singing. As much as I enjoy HHP I was ecstatic when we found an easier route. You can only have so much fun in a day on two hours sleep
Thanks for a great hike Mark